Men on a mission! Naked women shooting machine guns! Wildly inappropriate hair styles! The recent arrival of Enzo G. Castellari's The Inglorious Bastards on DVD makes clear that the movie is an entertaining, stylish adventure in its own right, justly deserving its reputation as a Eurocult genre gem. Inevitably, it also prompts speculation about what exactly Quentin Tarantino will do with his upcoming version, especially since the DVD features an extended conversation between Tarantino and Castellari about their respective visions.
The 1978 original doesn't have a "bat-wielding Nazi hunter," as one character has been recently described in casting talks for Tarantino's version, though it is set in World War II France. Miscreant Bo Svenson and murderer Fred Williamson are headed to military jail when their convoy is attacked by the Germans. The handful of surviving deserters plan to escape to neutral Switzerland before they end up on a suicide mission for the Allies under the command of Colonel Bruckner (Ian Bannen).
The men take a jaunty trip through a cartoon wonderland constructed out of Hollywood fantasy and Italian wish fulfillment. The film only rarely intersects with real life, instead inhabiting a world of wisecracks and world-weary warriors whose guns never run out of bullets. Castellari is such a brilliant director, though, that The Inglorious Bastards fairly pops off the screen with energetic fervor in nearly every sequence.
As such, it serves as a fabulous blueprint that Tarantino has probably drawn upon, ripped apart, and reassembled.